Last month our
society eventually got around to doing its first dig of the season. This was at Hatton
Fold in Atherton where we suspect the line of the Roman Road from Wigan to Manchester ran
(see Newsletter No.62). Unfortunately we didnt find the Road this time, but we did
get an early Victorian ditch or hollow-way crossing the site at an acute angle (the
feature also appears in the stream bank).
Two trenches were dug running parallel to each other and roughly parallel to the stream.
Trench 1 was located 3 metres from the stream adjacent to the area where Mark Haywood had
seen a stony surface in the bank. Trench 2 was 2 metres to the west of it. On the south
side in both trenches (just below the surface in trench 1) a rocky outcrop was uncovered,
which was cut through by the Victorian ditch. Gravel in the bottom of this ditch suggests
it could have hawater in it at one time. However it must have been deliberately filled as no trace of
sediment could be seen.
The stony surface that Mark had detected did not appear in our excavations but careful
examination of the stream bank shows that this surface actually overlies the ditch
feature. The suggestion is that the surface may be the remains of a track which appears on
the 1888 OS map. The track, now partly destroyed by stream erosion, is shown running along
side the bank before turning towards the farm.
Our search for the Roman Road however was not in vain as, in the south corner of trench 2
(the last section to be excavated), a cobble and pebble surface did emerge. Without
further excavation it would be impossible to say if this was the Road or not but the signs
were very positive. Both trenches have been photographed, planned and sectioned and have
now been back-filled. Norman Redhead from the GMAU has discussed the whole site with
developers and plans are being drawn up to pin-point areas for excavation. Norman has
assured us we will be included in these plans and hopefully a revisit to this site will be
in the offing.
We have now registered our project with Time Team and await their acceptance. In the
meantime Tom has been on site with Sharon Saunders of the Parks and Gardens department to
discuss possible excavation sites. The area where we suspect the line of the Roman Road to
run happens to be in the middle of a copse. Sharon said that this area of the park is
under review anyway, so she could arrange for the copse to be thinned out for us. Tom and
Sharon also took the opportunity to visit the cottage at Common Nook, on the edge of the
park, along the projected line of the Road. The owner revealed that he is constantly
bringing up stone and flint from his garden and when the bungalow opposite was
built, a road shaped gravelled surface was uncovered. This is very positive news for us.
The next trip out to the site will involve a resistivity and auger survey (date to be
Please note, anybody wanting to get involved in field work with the Society must
make sure they are up-to-date with their Tetanus jabs.
CBA North West
The Spring Reports Meeting and AGM will be held this Saturday (10th May) at Townley
Hall Museum, Burnley. This will be a special meeting for me as, not only am I giving a
talk on our Roman Road research activities, I have also been asked to be on the committee.
Besides mine, other reports include Duttons Farm (Lathom), Lea Green, The Mellor
Project, The Hernbridge Project and Alford Castle. If you want to attend (and give me
moral support) tickets are £5 each. Please see me at the meeting for further details.
Wednesday 7th May at the BP Centre (Scout HQ) in Greenough Street, at 7.30 pm as usual.
This months speaker is Keith Mathews from Chester Archaeology who
carried out excavations on the Amphitheatre at Chester in 2000 and 2001. There is
currently a lot of controversy regarding the future of this national monument (see
Newsletter No.59). Keith will no doubt have latest low-down on developments.